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Syria opposition lobbies for UN intervention - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A Syrian army defector stand guards in front of closed shops at the mountain resort town of Zabadani, Syria, near the Lebanese border, on Friday Jan. 20, 2012. (AP)

A Syrian army defector stand guards in front of closed shops at the mountain resort town of Zabadani, Syria, near the Lebanese border, on Friday Jan. 20, 2012. (AP)

BEIRUT, (AFP) – Opposition Syrian National Council leaders on Saturday pressed the Arab League to turn the Syria crisis over to the UN, but the League looked set to extend its own mission, criticised for its failure to stem 10 months of killing.

SNC chief Burhan Ghaliun met Arab League head Nabil al-Arabi in Cairo and lobbied against the extension of the League’s peace mission, SNC spokeswoman Basma Qadmani said.

The SNC wants “the transfer of the Syria file to the UN Security Council,” spokesman Mohammed Sermini told AFP in Cairo earlier, accusing the Damascus regime of “committing genocide and crimes against humanity.”

But the Arab League is expected to extend its mission, even boosting the number of observers deployed, after foreign ministers hear on Sunday a report on the mission’s first month of work.

The report will be delivered by the mission’s chief, General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi of Sudan, who believes his mandate needs to be strengthened, not scrapped, a League official said.

Deputy chief of operations, Ali Jarush, said Dabi is satisfied with the achievements of the operation so far and that “everything indicates that the observer mission in Syria will be extended by a month.”

“Dabi sees that in the last phase the necessary thrust (of the operation) was achieved after more monitors were deployed and fanned across 20 areas and after they were provided with equipment and logistics which they previously lacked, he said

But the SNC charged that Dabi’s report may not accurately reflect the situation in Syria.

The report should make a clear difference between the victim and executioner,” Sermini said, adding that “leaks” indicate that the report says monitors are unable to determine who is doing the killing.

With officials headed for a weekend of meetings in the Egyptian capital, the killing in Syria continued on Saturday.

A roadside bomb killed 15 detainees being transported in a Syrian prison truck in Idlib province in the northwest, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based group said members of the security forces were also injured in the blast, which Syria’s official SANA news agency blamed on an “armed terrorist group.

Separately, the Observatory reported that a member of the security forces was killed in fighting between dissidents and soldiers at Kfarnebel, in the Zawiya mountains of Idlib province, with troops using heavy machineguns.

It also said security forces had arrested seven people Saturday, including four members of the same family, in Iblin village.

On Syria’s maritime border with Lebanon, a 14-year-old Lebanese boy was shot and fatally wounded after gunmen opened fire on a fishing boat, his father and a local official told AFP.

“My wife crossed the border into Syria and has seen his body in the morgue of Bassel Assad hospital” in the coastal city of Tartus, said Ahmad Hamad of his son Maher.

He said the boy’s uncle, Khaled Hamad, was receiving treatment in the same hospital for gunshot wounds and another uncle, Fadi, was being held by Syrian intelligence in the city.

Qatar has proposed that Arab troops be deployed in Syria to “stop the killing,” but the proposal was vehemently rejected by Damascus and apparently by many Arab countries, as well, because they do not want the conflict “internationalised,” diplomats said.

Syria’s state Ath-Thawra daily on Saturday accused Qatar of being a “tool” of the United States that is trying to bring down the President Bashar al-Assad’s regime on orders from Washington.

“It is clear that Qatar … is trying to distance itself from Arab League and the report” that is expected to call for its renewal, the paper alleged.

Human Rights Watch on Friday urged the League “to publicly recognise that Syria has not respected the League’s plan and work with the Security Council to increase pressure on the authorities and effectively curtail the use of fire power.”

The United Nations estimates that more than 5,400 people have been killed in Syria since anti-regime demonstrations erupted in March.

A handout picture released by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC Syria) on January 19, 2011 shows Syrian troops taking position with their tanks in the flashpoint city of Homs. (AFP)

A handout picture released by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC Syria) on January 19, 2011 shows Syrian troops taking position with their tanks in the flashpoint city of Homs. (AFP)

Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Homs January 20, 2012. (Reuters)

Demonstrators protest against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Homs January 20, 2012. (Reuters)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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